To me, "ijtihad" is an opinion of a person in matters of religion when, no direct guidance is available from Quran and Sunnah of our prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), about that topic. This person is usually a religious scholar.

My point is that, Islam is religion from God, which was conveyed, firstly, by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and then through generations of muslims, to us. Since, the religion is an eternal guidance from God, no one has the right to add, remove or change anything in it.

If this is so, then, any opinion provided by him should be taken as a opinion and not an order from God. Thus "ijtihad" can not be a valid source of religion.

Is this reasoning correct? or is there any proof in Quran and Sunnah that "ijtihad" can be add, remove or change anything in the religion of God?


2 Answers 2


I see that their are some misunderstandings

What is ijtihad?

Ijtihad is defined as an Islamic legal term that means "independent reasoning" or "the utmost effort an individual can put forth in an activity. By using both the Qu'ran and Hadith as resources, the scholar is required to carefully rely on analogical reasoning to find a solution to a legal problem, which is considered to be a religious duty for those qualified to conduct it. Thus, a mujtahid is recognized as an Islamic scholar who is competent in interpreting sharia by ijtihad. Today, there are many different opinions surrounding the role of ijtihad in modern society.

Is ijtihad a source of religious ruling?

yes because of the well known Hadith of Mua'd ibn Jabal (May Allah be pleased with him) which you can find in Jami' at-Tirmidi:

Some men who were companions of Mu'adh narrated from Mu'adh that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) sent Mu'adh to Yemen, so he (ﷺ) said:
"How will you judge?" He said: "I will judge according to what is in Allah's Book."
He said: "If it is not in Allah's Book ?" He said: "Then with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)."
He said: "If it is not in the Sunnah of Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)?"
He said: "I will give in my view."
He said: "All praise is due to Allah, the One Who made the messenger of the Messenger of Allah suitable."

And in Sunan an-Nisa'i or an-Nasa'i you may find:

It was narrated from Shuraih that: He wrote to 'Umar, to ask him (a question), and 'Umar wrote back to him telling him:
"Judge according to what is in the Book of Allah. If it is not (mentioned) in the Book of Allah, then (judge) according to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah [SAW]. If it is not (mentioned) in the Book of Allah or the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah [SAW], then pass judgment according to the way the righteous passed judgment. If it is not (mentioned) in the Book of Allah, or the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah [SAW], and the righteous did not pass judgment concerning it, then if you wish, go ahead (and try to work it out by yourself) or if you wish, leave it.
And I think that leaving it is better for you. And peace be upon you."

Now you can't add anything you want in the religion or shari'ah because this would be bid'ah to make it clear: you can't add a new kind of prayer for example saying we have Friday night prayer instead of Isha' (astaghfiru-Allah) or any kind of worship which isn't explained by Quran or Sunna. What you can add is a new Opinion a new arbitral verdict, which for example adapts a known rule to our modern time, for example: Is it allowed to read Quran on an ebookreader!

And we should follow the rules made by Mujtahid (if we accept them and know their analysis according Quran and Sunna) according to many verses in the Quran for example

And We sent not before you, [O Muhammad], except men to whom We revealed [the message], so ask the people of the message if you do not know.

Surat al-Anbiya' 21:7

But we have to verify -if possible- them:

O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.

Surat an-Nisa' (4:59)

This Verse show two things: we should follow what Alalh says, what our Messenger (peace be upon him) says and what our Authority says (this could be a Mujtahid, when it comes to religious matters) and the 2nd is that we have to verify if this is confirm to (our hopefully correct understanding or interpretation of the) Quran and Sunna.

A Mufti (a man who gives fatwa) is also a kind of Mujtahid but in a low level (see for example my answer here Is ijtihad open in Islam (Sunni view)?)

I hope i could help

I'm no scholar but i love to read and hope my interpretation won't miss the truth that much!

And Allah knows best

  • Thanks for you answer. I am still not clear from the references that you have given, that makes some ijtihad, a religious ruling (hukam). e.g. In the last extract from the Quran (4:59), there can be situation where you disagree with the authority and the only real source of decision is Allah and his messenger.
    – goto
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 10:48

Ijtihad is a decision based on Quran and Sunna by a hakam during a judicial case. This is because the Prophet said =

إِذَا حَكَمَ الْحَاكِمُ فَاجْتَهَدَ ثُمَّ أَصَابَ فَلَهُ أَجْرَانِ ‏.‏ وَإِذَا حَكَمَ فَاجْتَهَدَ ثُمَّ أَخْطَأَ فَلَهُ أَجْرٌ

When a judge gives a decision, having tried his best to decide correctly and is right, there are two rewards for him; and if he gave a judgment after having tried his best but erred, there is one reward for him.

[Sahih al-Bukhari/Muslim]

It's the only Sahih hadith on ijtihad and it's speaking about a hakam. And Rasolullah clearly said a hakam can also be "erred."

So the possibility of ijtihad being wrong exists. But the hakam will be rewarded because he used Quran and Sunna to make a judgment.

In Surah al-Maida Allah said=

...And whoever does not judge (yaHkom) by what Allah has revealed are the disbelievers.

Therefore, no scholar has a right to do ijtihad unless he's a Hakam judging by what Allah has revealed And this ijtihad isn't binding on anyone.

Besides a hakam, there's no ijtihad in Deen. The Deen is clear when it comes to haraam and halaal and the obligations. No ijtihad is valid in these things. However, everyone will be rewarded based on their intentions.

And as you've already mentioned, it's based on Quran and Sunna. Only Allah has the authority to change it, whether it's adding, subtracting, or interpreting. But Ijtihad in of itself is not a source of hukm.

  • "Ijtihad is a decision based on Quran and Sunna by a hakam during a judicial case. " How did you get derive to that from that hadith? Also, we do not need a hadith that tells us about hakam or ijtihad to derive to the fact about ijtihad. But it's rather by analysing the behaviour of the Prophet (saw) and Sahaba, and by doing that you can draw conclusions about how and why they made ijtihad on matters.
    – Kilise
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 23:57

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